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Outdoor dining in Aspen will come at a cost this winter

Aspen City Council agrees to allow activation in public right of way but the fees are no longer waived.

ASPEN, Colo. — With uncertainties around COVID-19 this winter, Aspen’s elected officials are supportive of keeping outdoor dining in the public right of way, but in order to keep a level playing field, it’s time for businesses that utilize those spaces to start paying for them.

That was the direction Aspen City Council gave staff during a work session Tuesday regarding vitality in town for the winter.

For the past 18 months, businesses that have chosen to activate either in parking spaces, pedestrian malls or sidewalks have not had to pay the city a fee to use public right of way.

For the malls or sidewalks that fee is $4.02 per square foot, which averages between $7,000 and $10,000 for a business in the summer, said Mitch Osur, the city’s director downtown services and parking.

An amount hasn’t been calculated for what a parking space should go for, and Osur and his team are working on that figure before coming back to council later this month.

>Watch video above about a related story: Expanded patio programs reveal disparity in Denver restaurants

This past winter 47 spaces in the downtown core were utilized mostly by restaurants having outdoor structures, as well as dedicated take-out spots.

Currently, there are 22 spaces being used for either retail or restaurants, Osur said.

Councilman Ward Hauenstein said he supports keeping the status quo on allowing outdoor dining because the pandemic is not showing signs of easing up.

Read the full story in the Aspen Times.

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